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Unified Inbox Enables Text To Smart Home Communication

Not everyone thinks that the future of the IoT is voice-enabled.

While Amazon’s Echo and Google Home square off in the voice-activated marketplace, Apple’s Siri gears up to function in vehicles and PCs, and Samsung shells out $215 million for virtual assistant startup VivLabs, one Singapore tech startup is approaching the matter from a different angle.

Founded in 2010, internet-of-communications startup Unified Inbox works in part to enable device-to-smart appliance communications via text.

“Think of it as a universal translator between the languages that machines speak … and us humans,” Toby Ruckert, Unified Inbox’s CEO, told Forbes.

Current Unified Inbox customers currently include half of the world’s smart appliance makers, Ruckert said. As of now, the startup’s platform reportedly supports over 20 of the top smartphone messaging apps along with SMS and Twitter. Using these messaging and text-based applications, users can already control a wide range of smart home appliances, with more undergoing testing.

Smart appliance manufacturers are likely concerned about the prospect of an Amazon, Google and others in the tech company-dominated smart home market, requiring integration with Alexa or Google Home rather than an internally created system.

“Our customers are quite afraid of the likes of Amazon,” Ruckert told Forbes. “Having a Trojan horse in a customer’s home, like Echo, that they must integrate with to stay competitive is a nightmare for them.”

And since Amazon has a habit of expanding its reach, the thought of the online retail giant developing its own smart appliances has likely crossed manufacturers’ minds. Especially since Amazon, whose Alexa virtual assistant now boasts over 10,000 skills, makes it easy for device manufacturers to integrate with its voice-enabled software.

Since the beginning of 2017, Alexa has integrated with a number of smart products and services ranging from smartphones to fridges to smart car user interfaces. With speculation circulating that Amazon is gearing up to enable Echo-to-Echo communication, other smart device manufacturers should be on the lookout for what the future holds for Amazon and other tech company virtual assistant endeavors.

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